Sergey Rachmaninov

Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 13 (lost; reconstructed from piano duets and orch. fragments)

    Description by Sol Louis Siegel

    The history of Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 1 is almost as notable as the music itself. The 1897 premiere was a complete fiasco, poorly conducted by Glazunov and miserably received. "If there were a Conservatory in Hell," wrote César Cui, "Rachmaninov would certainly gain first prize for his symphony, so devilish are the discords he has dished up before us." Rachmaninov's reaction, beyond a nervous collapse, was to disown the work. However, the orchestral parts from that same premiere turned up after World War II, and the Symphony was revived as something of a historical curiosity.

    Though far from the composer's best work -- he was but 23, and in the earliest stages of his career, at the time of its composition -- the Symphony is far from the unqualified failure suggested by its initial reception. It is, instead, a large, ambitious work that attempts to expand the bounds of the Russian symphony beyond the works of Tchaikovsky by incorporating music of the Russian Orthodox church.

    The Symphony opens with a brief, introductory swirling motif that will signify Fate throughout the work. The first movement proper, Allegro ma non troppo, is an expression of storm and struggle, with climaxes that suggest the clangor of bells. Though dark and troubled, the Scherzo, marked Allegro animato, is colored with flashes of fantasy. The Larghetto is a poem in which love is overshadowed by the menace of the middle section. The "Fate" motive explodes at the beginning of the last movement, Allegro con fuoco, followed by a blazing fanfare that leads to another dramatic life-and-death struggle. At the end of the Symphony, the "Fate" figure hammers down again and again, obliterating all that has come before it.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Grave - Allegro ma non troppo
    2. Allegro animato
    3. Larghetto
    4. Allegro con fuoco

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 LSO Live LSO 0816
    2018 Eloquence
    2017 Signum Classics SIGCD 484
    2016 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 13037
    2016 LSO Live LSO 0784
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 440
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 6005
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4793631
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627827
    2014 Warner Classics 541215
    2014 Decca 4786765
    2013 Melodiya MYD 1002090
    2013 BIS BIS 2012
    2013 Warner Classics 5099940959627
    2013 Naxos 8573234
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779505
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Exton 00018
    2010 Newton Classics 8802021
    2010 Ars Musici 232192
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Chandos 10475
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 445590
    2008 Svetlanov 4981
    2008 BBC Legends 42332
    2007 BIS 1665/66
    2007 EMI Classics
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950088
    2007 Regis Records 1247
    2007 Melodiya MELCD 1000141
    2006 Exton 00156
    2006 Moscow Studio Archives 18731
    2006 Decca
    2005 Erato
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 56754
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 85459
    2005 Decca 4767724
    2005 Budapest Music Center 101
    2004 Onyx Classix 6600
    2003 BIS 1309
    2002 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243575510
    2001 Chandos CHAN9822
    2001 Naxos 8 505177
    2000 Onyx Classix 1917
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463 075-2GH
    1999 Naxos 550806
    1998 London 455798
    1998 Nimbus 1761
    1997 Point Classics 265098
    1997 London 448116
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 63257
    1996 Melodiya 40064
    1994 Philips 438724
    1993 Virgin / Virgin Classics 59279
    1993 Nimbus 5311
    1993 London 436283
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64530
    1992 Vox 5034
    Onyx Classix 66572
    CBS Records 45678
    Deutsche Grammophon 419314
    Collins Records 1213
    Virgin 59547
    Russian Revelation 10002
    Warner Music
    Virgin 562037
    London 411657
    Excelsior Recordings 5340
    Alto 1032
    Moscow Studio Archives 20001
    Aurophon Records 31459
    Ars Musici 1121